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Vanderbilt Chancellor, faculty, students hit the road to enhance Tennessee ties

Aug. 14, 2002, 4:01 PM

August 14, 2002

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Political candidates will not be the only ones logging miles on Tennessee’s highways this summer. For the first time, Vanderbilt University Chancellor Gordon Gee will hit the road with about 40 newly tenured and newly hired faculty and students to East Tennessee to learn more about the state and to visit areas where Vanderbilt is engaged in community outreach.

The trip, scheduled Aug. 19-20, will include top faculty in a wide variety of disciplines – from economics, astronomy and pastoral theology to mechanical engineering, medical ethics and special education. The group will take a page from country music stars by traveling on a bus emblazoned with “Vanderbilt Roads Scholars Tour.”

“Tennessee is our home. It is where we live, teach and learn, and we are committed to making it better through our teaching, research and service to the public,” said Chancellor Gee. “Our goal is to introduce the newest members of our community to this great state. But we also want to better inform Tennesseans about Vanderbilt, and make them proud to have this world-class university in their backyard.”

The group will travel from Nashville to Lynchburg, Chattanooga, Athens, Knoxville, Huntsville, Oneida and Jamestown with a final stop in Cookeville.

In Knoxville, University of Tennessee President John Shumaker will host a dinner at his residence, allowing the leaders of both universities to discuss universities’ role in community outreach with the group.

In Oneida, the group will have lunch with schools Superintendent Mayfield Brown, William H. Swain, chairman of First National Bank of Oneida, and students at Oneida High School to discuss how the community worked together to turn around the town’s once ailing school system.

Near Jamestown, a rock quarry is the tour’s destination. In 1982, Vanderbilt geology professor Molly Miller discovered the fossils of prehistoric horseshoe crabs at the quarry. Since a shallow ocean once covered Tennessee, Miller’s discovery disproved a long-held scientific belief that the crabs were exclusive to fresh water. Miller regularly coordinates with quarry owner Tom Broyles, who has extended an open invitation to Vanderbilt researchers and students to visit the site to learn about Tennessee’s geologic history.

At the final stop in Cookeville, the group will have a chance to hear from Tennessee Technological University President Robert Bell and tour the Appalachian Center for Crafts at the university.

“The chancellor has a strong commitment to parting what has been viewed as the ‘magnolia curtain’ around Vanderbilt. He wants to continue renewing the university’s covenant with the community and is using this trip as both a learning opportunity and a way of making his commitment known across the state,” said Gail Carr Williams, assistant director of community engagement at Vanderbilt.

Other stops along the tour include some of the state’s most well known businesses – Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey Distillery in Lynchburg and Mayfield Dairy Farms in Athens, as well as visits to the Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga, Scott County Higher Education Center in Huntsville, Tenn., and the Tennessee Valley Authority in Knoxville.

Media contact: Princine Lewis, 615-322-NEWS